By Leo Igwe
As it stands now, the fate of Mubarak Bala, Nigerian humanist who was arrested last week is unknown. Nobody is sure if Mr. Bala is alive or dead. If he is alive, no one knows the conditions of his detention. Mr. Bala was last seen on April 29, 2020, a day after police detectives from the Kano State Command arrested him in Kaduna.
As soon as the information reached me that Mr. Bala was in the police custody, I contacted the Commissioner of Police (CP) in Kaduna and the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO). They confirmed the arrest of Mr. Bala but could not provide details. They made it clear that Bala’s case was not their case and that Bala would be transferred to Kano for investigation. They declined to disclose the reason for the arrest and if Bala’s case could be transferred to Abuja or any other neutral place.
After speaking with the police officers in Kaduna and it was obvious that Mr. Bala would be taken to Kano, I tried to interact with the chief police officers in Kano. I rang up the Assistant Inspector General (AIG), the CP, and the PPRO in Kano. The AIG said he did not know about the case and asked me to contact the CP, that the case must be with the state command. I called the CP and he confirmed that there was a petition against Mubarak Bala at the state command. That they had ordered his arrest in Kaduna. He said that they were waiting for him and asked me to go and get a lawyer. I could not reach the PPRO on that day. I called him several times but he did not pick his phone. The following day I called the CP several times, he did not pick the phone. I eventually got through to the PPRO after several attempts but he was more interested in knowing my relationship with Mubarak. He repeatedly asked me if I was among those encouraging him to make blasphemous posts on Facebook. I urged him to allow the lawyer to meet with Mubarak. The lawyer has gone to the state police command on three occasions without seeing Mr. Bala. The police officers that he met claimed that they had no knowledge of Mr. Bala’s case and where he was detained.
As it stands now, the whereabouts of Bala is unknown. No one has seen him since the police moved him to Kano. In fact, no one can confirm if Mr. Bala is dead or alive. The police have a responsibility to provide information about Bala’s current state. They need to disclose the conditions of his detention. The police cannot indefinitely keep Bala in custody. In fact, it is illegal for the police to detain a person without charge beyond 48 hours. So the police have a responsibility to produce Bala, give him access to a lawyer, charge him in a court, or unconditionally release him.
For now, the police need to provide answers to these very urgent questions: where is Mubarak Bala? Is he dead or alive?
Leo Igwe holds a doctoral degree in religious studies from the University of Bayreuth. He chairs the Board of Trustees of the Humanist Association of Nigeria.
Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular Alliance, Centre for Inquiry Canada, Kelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.
Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du Québec, Atheist Freethinkers, Central Ontario Humanist Association, Comox Valley Humanists, Grey Bruce Humanists, Halton-Peel Humanist Community, Hamilton Humanists, Humanist Association of London, Humanist Association of Ottawa, Humanist Association of Toronto, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba, Ontario Humanist Society, Secular Connextions Seculaire, Secular Humanists in Calgary, Society of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph), Thunder Bay Humanists, Toronto Oasis, Victoria Secular Humanist Association.
Other International/Outside Canada Resources: Allianz vun Humanisten, Atheisten an Agnostiker, American Atheists, American Humanist Association, Associação Brasileira de Ateus e AgnósticoséééBrazilian Association of Atheists and Agnostics, Atheist Alliance International, Atheist Alliance of America, Atheist Centre, Atheist Foundation of Australia, The Brights Movement, Center for Inquiry (including Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science), Atheist Ireland, Camp Quest, Inc., Council for Secular Humanism, De Vrije Gedachte, European Humanist Federation, Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, Foundation Beyond Belief, Freedom From Religion Foundation, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist International, Humanist Association of Germany, Humanist Association of Ireland, Humanist Society of Scotland, Humanists UK, Humanisterna/Humanists Sweden, Internet Infidels, International League of Non-Religious and Atheists, James Randi Educational Foundation, League of Militant Atheists, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, National Secular Society, Rationalist International, Recovering From Religion, Religion News Service, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, The Clergy Project, The Rational Response Squad, The Satanic Temple, The Sunday Assembly, United Coalition of Reason, Union of Rationalist Atheists and Agnostics.
Image Credit: Mubarak Bala.